From July 18th - October 7th, Shanghai’s Power Station of Art and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain present the first solo exhibition in China of Japanese architect, Venice Architecture Biennale’s winner of the Golden Lion award, Junya Ishigami - “Junya Ishigami: Freeing Architecture.” It is the second collaboration between PSA and the Fondation Cartier after “A Beautiful Elsewhere”, which showed the richness and diversity of its collection. "Junya Ishigami: Freeing Architecture" was created at the initiative of the Fondation Cartier where it was originally exhibited in Paris in 2018, Ishigami himself has redesigned the exhibition according to the PSA venue. The exhibition sheds a light on the processes and details of Ishigami’s concept realization through large-scale models, architectural drawings, design manuscripts, and films.
The exhibition title “Freeing Architecture” expresses Ishigami’s unwillingness to succumb to traditional architectural forms and methods of expression. Instead, he freely explores and creates new definitions of architecture. The exhibition will cover 20 groups of architectural projects such as “The KAIT (Kanagawa Institute of Technology) Workshop”, “House & Restaurant”, “Forest Kindergarten”, and “Chapel of Valley”. Ishigami believes that buildings today are no longer just simple shelters, but diverse “sceneries” that make up the vast space of this world. He uses his mastery of environment, nature and scale to transform buildings into entirely new sceneries and thereby discovering entirely new worlds. In the “The KAIT Workshop”, his first independent project, Ishigami used 305unevenly distributed columns of different shapes to create ambiguity within the scenery. If people enter a “forest”, they can freely wander, get lost, and explore unique private spaces. In a design for a French chef titled “House & Restaurant”, Ishigami dug holes into the ground, filled them with concrete, and later removed excess soil etc. to recreate the impression of a primitive cave. Beneath the thick and rigid undulated surface, the building represents multiplicity and complexity.
In his many projects, Ishigami demonstrates an amazing capacity to conceive his practice as being outside the boundaries of architectural “scale” thinking. He used the scale of an imaginary horizon to allow the students to “travel” through the “University Multipurpose Plaza”. The scale of a lake surface became the skeleton of the scenery for China Shandong’s “Cultural Center”. In eastern Japan’s “Kids Park”, Ishigami re-observed and re-imagined the world to transform his identity of an architect into children’s scale and perspective. A bear became a dome, the open mouth of a hippopotamus became a cave, and all of nature’s animals, plants, rocks, mountains, clouds, and buildings were equally transformed into a landscape seen through children’s eyes.
Ishigami’s architectural practice can now be found across the globe, but he always attaches importance to the human and natural environment of each project. He emphasizes design concepts that explore and extend the unknown within the existing site. In Tytsjerk, The Netherlands, Ishigami established “Park Groot Vijversburg Visitor Center” located at a historic park that dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. He didn’t intent to change the park’s environment, instead he simply created a zig-zag corridor building along three existing intersecting walkways. Ishigami decided to eliminate the building’s pillars and to use a glass screen for the structure of the building. The glass structure not only supports the roof’s steel beams, but also reflects and extends the beauty of the surrounding ponds, forests, and meadows. Ishigami also received an invitation to build the “Chapel of Valley” located at the base of a small narrow valley in China’s Shandong province. Ishigami took advantage of the terrain’s natural ruggedness to build a structure that is 45 meters tall and only 1.3 meters wide. The slender and high walls accentuate the valley’s natural depth, while the light that pours into the depth of the building becomes still and holy. In 2018 in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, after five years of repeated investigation, thinking, and modeling, Ishigami completed “Botanical Farm Garden Art Biotop/Water Garden”. On a construction ground near the project site, many trees were to be cut down. Ishigami therefore proposed to transplant the trees from there onto the site of the Water Garden and to draw water from an existing sluice gate to fill countless small ponds. A new method of overlapping and blending landscape screated a new scenery that never existed in the original environment.
In a pluralistic society that’s rapidly changing, Ishigami believes that we need to think freely and explore various possibilities of free architecture. Ishigami points out that “If architects and non-architects from all over, people all around the world could think about architecture more freely. If such scenery joined together to form a single space, the world would be all the richer for it. The different values in the world and types of architecture in the world would come closer together. Architecture would become more intimate than it is now.”
This exhibition is a continuation of PSA's themed program - “Architecture & City” Exhibitions and Researches. PSA now focuses on a new generation of architects to explore their hidden heritage and development process. PSA exhibits some of the most stimulating architectural designs, and discusses the role of architects to provide positive ideas for the future development of architecture.